You don’t have to understand someone to be respectful

You have your way. I have my way. As for the right way, the correct way, and the only way, it does not exist.
Friedrich Nietzsche

The other day I was at a party. After I finished talking to a friend, I started listening in on another conversation. Since I just dropped in on the conversation, I didn’t know exactly what it was about, but it seemed being sociable was the theme. One of the women said that she couldn’t stand those engineers that would sneak along the wall (as if they are trying to hide) and not say anything. Apparently that didn’t feel comfortable to her and she told how she once walked up to one of them, stood right in front of him and said hi.

Honestly, I was shocked. That is something kids do in high school, not adults at work. Or so I thought.
That person may very well have been a shy introvert and was likely horrified when she was right in his face. I don’t know why she did it. If it was just to make her feel better or to somehow let that person know he should greet. But whatever her reason, there’s a good chance her action made this person draw even further back in his shell. If it was that important, annoying or whatever to her, she could have just politely asked him about it and/or tell him how it made her feel instead of being intrusive and disrespectful.

Since I didn’t feel like saying I’m introverted myself (they may have noticed, I don’t know, but I definitely wasn’t going to share 🙂 ), I started by telling them about a book I’m reading “Quiet” by Susan Cain. About how western society (and the US in particular) is focused on extroversion. How people are expected to show, and are appreciated for sociable, talkative and outgoing behavior. Those are good qualities and introverted people have other good qualities. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all respect and appreciate each other’s differences?

Hopefully it made them think about it. Unfortunately, in the heat of the moment, I never know what to say. I have to think about things first and then I prefer the write it down (apparently not uncommon amongst introverted people 🙂 ).

What I would really like for all of us, is to try and understand we are not all the same and that we all have our own qualities. Of course I understand that when someone is completely your opposite, it may be challenging to understand why someone is behaving the way they do. And even then, we can still be respectful of that person.

And this is not about introversion, but about autism, depression or whatever character trait or illness people may have that makes them not compliable with society’s standards. Different doesn’t mean less, it just means different. And it may be hard on people, so let’s not make it any more difficult for them. Let’s see the beauty and the qualities in others and appreciate and respect them for that.